The Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

One of the highlights of Spanish life is the gorgeous flavours of a homemade Mediterranean dish. But what if we told you that the diet you have been in need of going on for the past few years could actually be scrapped in place of a bit of Spanish-style cooking? New research is leading us to believe that the diet of the Spanish just may well be the goldilocks we have all been desperately seeking.

Types of food in Spanish and Mediterranean diet

Now we have all heard and tried the likes of a seafood paella or freshly grilled calamari with garlic aioli on the side… But why is this so good for us? The point of this diet is not to have one or two Mediterranean dishes a week or so, it is to eat this style and type of food on a regular basis. But just what is in your favourite Mediterranean dishes and what makes it so good for you?

In a typical Spanish diet you will very rarely see red meat. It is to be eaten on occasion much unlike our current diets which often see people trying to focus on eating lots of lean red meat. The Spanish simply limit it excessively and it works. As well as this things such as eggs, poultry, yoghurt and cheese should be eaten in moderation. The Spaniards rarely sprinkle cheese over any and everything like we do, and this is the reason their life expectancy is so high!

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How the food is prepared

Instead of the foods we gave examples on previously, the Spanish try to focus on more fruit and vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, herbs etc. Bread is very common in a Spanish meal but notice that it is not the same kind of ours and is often accompanied by extra virgin olive oil and served only as a starter.

They enjoy preparing their foods in advance of eating and often cook with different types of olive oils giving the food more natural flavourings and enhancing their own rather than adding artificial ones. Fish, spices and seafoods are an absolutely MUST have in the mediterranean diet. Yes, they probably used it so much back in the day because of their location in the world… but all that omega 3 is never bad for you! And it sure tastes nice too.

For more specific examples in the instance of vegetables think, broccoli, spinach, onions, kale, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers etc. For fruits almost any go! But the Spaniards try their best to avoid fruits that house a high amount of natural sugars. So we suggest grapes, peaches, melons, figs, oranges, apples and dates. Some of the most popular Mediterranean dishes encase the following fish and seafood items: salmon, tuna, shrimp, oysters, crab, trout, sardines, mackerel and mussels. Poultry aside from chicken and duck is rare, but especially over Christmas time the Spanish are not adverse to turkey too.

Health benefits of diet

One of the main health benefits are simply that Spanish food is extremely low in sugar and they rarely utilize processed foods. All of their ingredients are very raw and close to nature, unlike more British and American diets that vouch for processed microwaved meals. Another benefit is that the diet is extremely sustainable. It’s not like the aforementioned atkins or 1, 2, 3 step diets that we’re all so used to. It’s a diet that barely feels like one at all. It gives us food that actually fills us up and gives us the right kind of energy in the right places to actually live life fully.

Recent research has shown us that this style of diet actually improves the condition of your heart and maintains healthy heart health. Because it’s filled to the brim with omega 3 enriched foods with plenty of monounsaturated fats, the Mediterranean diet has been linked in reducing heart disease and their ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) that comes from olive oils being key in decreasing the risk of cardiac arrest.

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How is the diet linked to high life expectancy?

A diet so rich in fresh plant based foods and the healthy type fats is of course the best preparation for longevity in life. Monounsaturated fats, as we’ve previously talked about are key in preventing heart disease, depression, cancer and cognitive decline. When we say cognitive decline we’re talking about diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia, the current biggest killer and predicted continued biggest killer for many years to come. The main thing to note about this diet is that it is full of cholesterol lowering food, meaning it’ll keep you around happier and for longer!

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